Despite their win at last week's tri-district meet, the Mount Baker girls' cross country team entered the Class 1A State Championships on Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco with a lot of questions.
Sure they were ranked No. 3 in the latest 1A state coaches' poll, but they had only one runner who had ever experienced what it was like to run at state.
"It was really nerve wracking," senior Chynna Phan said in a phone interview of her first state experience. "We were all really nervous because a couple of us were hurting and there was a lot of pressure on us being ranked so high. This is my first year running cross country, so I was really excited. We didn't end up getting first, but we put up our best effort."
The Mountaineers' best effort netted them a fifth-place finish, as they scored 157 points to finish behind Lakeside (51), Riverside (84), King's (146) and Northwest (156). Meridian finished seventh with 192 points, and Lynden Christian was eighth in 201.
Considering their inexperience, Mount Baker was quite pleased with its fifth-place run.
"Chynna and Rayedeen (Engels) and Haley Rollins, none of them had run this course before. Kelsie (Nern) was the only one that ran here before. They were very, very nervous. We even had one girl throw up before the start. They were nervous and didn't know what to expect, but still went out and raced hard."
Nern was able to play on her experience at state to place fifth overall with a time of 19 minutes, 11.99 seconds. Leavenworth Cascade's Erin Mullins claimed the individual title in 18:32.76, while Nooksack Valley's Amy Murphy also made the podium with a ninth-place finish in 19:23.91.
Nern said she relied heavily on her experience to pick up the strong finish.
"I couldn't go out fast," Nern said. "There were a lot of nervous freshmen and sophomores around me. I knew they were going to go out fast. I just had to keep my pace, and just start picking them off and keep running hard."
That's exactly what she did, as Hayes said Nern passed five runners in the final 1,000 meters of the race.
"She raced very, very smart," Hayes said. "She was not even close to fifth in the first mile. Once she hit one-mile marker, she started picking girls off. ... She raced very, very strong and very, very smart. She's worked so hard to get to this point."
Hayes said a number of Mountaineers ran similar races to Nern, using race smarts to come back and pick up places during the second half of the race.
Phan finished 25th, while Engels was 51st. Katie Buss and Rollins weren't far behind in 61st and 65th place.
"It's the first season we've gone to state (as a team) in a really long time," Nern said "I'm very proud of these ladies. Even though we finished fifth, I'm very proud of what we did today. We worked our tails off all day and all season to get here."
Sophomore Mimi Meggison led Meridian's run to seventh with her 19th-place finish, and teammate McKenzie Roque was just one spot back. Dena Andrushenko's 32nd-place finish gave the Trojans three runners in the top 40.
Lynden Christian was led by Sarah Ball's 28th-place finish. Julia Morris (46th) and McKenzie Young (49th) also finished in the top 50 for the Lyncs.
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
CLASS 1A GIRLS RESULTS
Pl. Runner School Yr. Time
5. Kelsie Nern Mount Baker Sr. 19:11.99
9. Amy Murphy Nooksack Valley So. 19:23.91
19. Mimi Meggison Meridian So. 19:55.18
20. McKenzie Roque Meridian Sr. 19:57.72
25. Chynna Phan Mount Baker Sr. 20:10.38
28. Sarah Ball Lynden Christian So. 20:15.62
32. Dena Andrushenko Meridian Fr. 20:34.97
46. Julia Morris Lynden Christian Jr. 20:56.63
49. McKenzie Young Lynden Christian Jr. 21:03.11
51. Rayedeen Engels Mount Baker Sr. 21:04.17
53. Marissa Hielkema Lynden Christian Sr. 21:05.82
61. Katie Buss Mount Baker Jr. 21:14.15
65. Haley Rollins Mount Baker Fr. 21:22.38
69. Briannah Heiniger Meridian So. 21:36.53
70. Katherine Dunford Mount Baker So. 21:39.31
75. Chloe Gardner Nooksack Valley Sr. 21:44.53
83. Kara Veldman Lynden Christian So. 21:56.34
99. Karisa Stapp Mount Baker Sr. 22:19.07
105. Tiana Pratt Meridian Jr. 22:29.42
108. Brooke Berendsen Lynden Christian Fr. 22:47.81
112. Madison Holz Meridian Jr. 23:03.02
114. Sarah Graybeal Meridian Sr. 23:12.04
120. Ally Visser Lynden Christian So. 23:39.22
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.